Journal Friday #77

 
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As I work to put together my book of journal pages, I am struck by a few things. First, I’m struck by the amount of white in the earlier journals. The early journals contain a lot of pages that feel empty and unresolved. Even the more resolved pages have a lot white.

Second, I’m struck by the amount of photos and image transfers in these early journals. I had access to a color laser printer, and I printed a lot of my own photos, especially of myself. I used a lot of these print outs as collage materials for the pages and as image transfers.

Finally, I’m struck by the shallow layers. Though there’s some layering in the pages, they’re not as richly layered as my later pages. It took me quite some time to develop the techniques for layering that are a hallmark of my journals now.

It’s always nice to take a trip down memory lane with these early journals. Here are some pages that probably won’t be in the book.

Journal Friday #76: Artistic Acts and Going Back

 
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I have mentioned before that the visual journal process for me is not a linear process. I don’t complete a page or spread and then move to the next. I add bits and pieces completing little actions that accumulate in the journal and allow pages to develop slowly.

Some pages stall, and I come back to them months later and add to them. Revisiting pages time and time again allows me to reflect on them, mulling over the possibilities. Underdeveloped pages often catch my eye, but I often pass them by until finally an idea strikes and I add to them.

 
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Such was the case this week, as I turned to two simple artistic acts using two of my favorite materials to add layers to pages — some of which were started months ago.

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I love water-soluble pencil, and Derwent Inktense pencils are some of my favorite. These pencils contain a water-soluble ink that is bright, and most importantly, transparent. I love building layers with them. So I flipped through my pages and found some underdeveloped spots to add color and layers. I simply used water to spread pigment — a technique that I probably use 95% of the time.

 Derwent Inktense Pencils

Derwent Inktense Pencils

 Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

I also turned to colored pencil to develop one of my two-page spreads as well. I’ve been using Faber-Castell Polychromos a lot recently in some stand alone works, so I decided to use them on the spread at the top of the post. These pencils are smooth and rich, and they are ideal for working in on top of the Inktense. They allow for a more finished and polished look, and they’re great for fine tuning color and edges. I find that I can get a lot of depth with them.

So, this week has just been about returning to some favorite materials and some simple artistic acts to go back to pages that were begun months ago. I love when these stagnant pages can find new direction and momentum.

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Journal Friday #75: Little Actions

 
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I've been keeping myself busy with a number of projects, and I haven't had a lot of time to work extensively in my journal. But I've had some opportunities to add some doodles and embellishments. I'm a big believer in little actions leading to big results, so as artists we don't need copious amounts of uninterrupted time in a studio with access to all of our paints, markers, stencils, and materials. Often all we need is an ink pen and a few minutes.

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This week, I was able to embellish some text, add some spirals on the Legacy spread, and add to some ink doodles on other pages. These little actions add a lot of richness and depth to pages. It wasn't a whole lot but, these little actions will add up.

 
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Journal Friday #74

 
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I've worked a little in the Journal this week, but my energies have been focused on other projects. First, I'm working to finish the last installment of my ebook series, The Journal Fodder Junkies Daily Challenge. I'm a couple of months behind with releasing this installment, but I've been working on it, and hope to have it available soon.

Second, I've been working on another project - one that I've been wanting to do for quite some time, and I'm hoping to have it wrapped up in early October. So, I want to officially announce that I am working on a book of Journal Pages. After the release of our two books, The Journal Junkies Workshop and Journal Fodder 365, David and I wanted to publish a book of just journal pages like the Dan Eldon book, The Journey is the Destination. But after approaching a few publishers, including North Light who published our other books, we were turned down.

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But now with the easy of self-publishing, I am putting together select pages form my first ten volumes of journals. This will be a solo project, but hopefully we can follow up with a book of David's journals soon. The book will be a similar format as the other books - 8.5x11 inches with around 144 pages, and I'm looking to publish it through Amazon's Createspace.

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Since it will be self-published, I have to do all of the work. I've been spending a lot of time photographing, editing, and curating journal pages. I've been looking for two-page spreads that can be used so that when the viewer looks through the pages, they'll get an experience that is more like looking at the actual journals where side-by-side pages aren't cobbled together from different sources.

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It's a lot of work, but I'm hoping to have it ready by mid October. Wish me luck!

In the mean time, I thought that I'd share a few pages and spreads that I probably won't be using.

Sad Week: Good Bye Neville and Pop

 
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It has been a very sad week in our house, as we have lost two members of our furry family.

Early in this past week we said goodbye to Neville (pictured above). He was the newest member of the family, and Joanne rescued him on a trip to New Mexico. She had gone to help Soul Dog Rescue with a clinic in Crownpoint, New Mexico, and this poor, paralyzed little kitten was brought in. Joanne fell in love immediately, and brought him home as a "foster" with the goal of trying to get him healthy.

Neville was a very sweet and social little kitten, but he was extremely underweight and had extensive medical issues. At first, things looked up. He gained weight, and he seemed to be getting stronger. Unfortunately, after a little more than two weeks, he took a turn, and we had to say good bye. His life was short, but we were able to offer him love and comfort for two weeks that he wouldn't have had otherwise.

 
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We also said good bye to the matriarch and oldest member of our furry family. Pop (above) was 18, and was born to Joanne's very first foster cat when she lived in Georgia. The litter was named after Rice Krispies, and there was Snap and Crackle along with Pop. Joanne adopted Pop as the others found homes elsewhere, and Poppy lived her entire life in a loving home.

A while back, Pop had developed kidney issues, but had bounced back quite well. She seemed like she was doing well, so we were caught off guard when we took her into Joanne's clinic for her annual check up and had to be put on IV fluids. She went downhill very quickly, and we made the decision to say goodbye.

We are very sad, and the house seems much emptier. But we are very grateful for the doctors and the staff at Leesburg Veterinary Hospital for their compassion and all of their help.

We will miss our little furry family members!

Journal Friday #73: Legacy

 
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Although I normally dabble here and there in a journal and rarely focus on a single page or spread, today I decided to devote much energy to the spread above.

 
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It all started with a hike this morning. I live very close to a section of the Appalachian trail here in Northern Virginia, and I've hiked it hundreds of times, but I haven't hike it much lately. With the weather a bit on the cool side this morning, I decided to head out to the trail. Without going into much detail, as I hiked, my mind wandered and twisted with the trail, and before long I had a bit of a cathartic moment. It was quite unexpected, and I became quite emotional as I realized how we all must contend with legacy - not only our legacy, but the legacy that is left through us. This legacy can, at times, be something that we must contend with and deal with.

 
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In that moment, I confronted a legacy of darkness - a legacy passed onto to me, and I realized that I am tired of carrying around the negativity, the judgment, and the anger. I want to carry light and compassion and wonder. I want to shine. I'm not sure where to go from here, but having a moment of realization is a start.

We all have to deal with legacy in one way or another.

First Day of School

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Today is the first day of school for area kids. This will be the third first day of school since I stepped away from teaching a little more than two years ago, and as many of my teacher friends have already been back at school for a while getting their rooms ready, planning for a new year, attending professional development, and sitting through meetings, today will be the first day with students.

I don't miss it! I miss working with students. I miss the friendships with colleagues, but I don't miss the hassle and the hustle of being a public school art teacher. Two years ago I stepped away, and I don't regret a minute of it.

Although it hasn't always been easy, things have been working out. Bills have been getting paid, and I am surviving. It's still a hustle to schedule and promote classes. It's still a lot of work to make art and to sell it, but month after month things fall into place. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for everyone who comes out for a class, for everyone who has purchased art, and for everyone who has supported me in any way - small or big.

So, while I wish all of my teacher friends a good first day of school and an awesome new school year, I am glad that it's no longer me in the classroom.

I'll be in the studio, plotting my course and planning what's next!

Journal Friday #72

 
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This week I had a bit of a break from teaching summer camps, so I was able to make it into the studio a few times, and I focused on a couple of things in the journal.

First, I began developing ideas further for a possible book and/or workshop. I haven't solidified anything definite, but I've been thinking about creativity a lot lately. I began some preliminary reflections a few weeks ago, but this week I started running through some of the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head trying to flesh out some of them. I've come up with a few things, and hopefully, I can start putting together a bit more formal soon. But the journal is the perfect place to develop the ideas and to experiment and explore a variety of techniques and processes.

I also worked to fill in certain shapes and spaces - everything from simply coloring in drawn letters with highlighter to experimenting with a couple of faces to adding some connection imagery to a page.

I'm more than 7 months into the big journal, and I probably have something started on about half of the pages, but I would say that there is probably only a handful that feel resolved. That's one of the nice things with my approach. Pages get slowly built up over time, and there's no stress on "finishing" pages.

Journal Friday #71: Ball Point Pen

 
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I feel like a broken record, but it's been another busy week, so I turned to a simple material and a simple technique as I found some time to work in the journal this week. Sometimes it's nice to turn to a straight forward idea that doesn't take a lot of thought, planning, or prep time. So this week, I pulled out a mundane ball point pen and added shading to several pages. the materials used in the journal don't have to be top of the line artists materials, and often ordinary, everyday materials can have great results. This cheap, ubiquitous pen is no different and can be used in sophisticated ways to create value changes and bring focus to shapes, letters, and areas.

It's been a while since I've used ball point pen in my journal, and I used to use it quite often. So it was nice to spend some time revisiting such a simple and easy material. Sometimes simple is better.

 
 

Teaching at John C. Campbell Folk School

 
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I am beyond excited! I'm teaching a week long class at the renown John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC! Since Dave and I began teaching workshops thirteen or fourteen years ago, I've dreamt of teaching at the Folk School, and thanks to good friend and artist Erin Keane, I have a workshop scheduled for January 2019. Erin has taught at the Folk School and put me in touch with the right people. Thank you so much, Erin!

As I talked with the folks at the school, it became apparent that the workshop couldn't be your ordinary journal or mixed media workshop, and I kept coming back to this notion of what do you do with a blank book. The center offers a variety of bookmaking classes, but what happens to the book when completed? Many students create these amazing handbound books but don't know what to do in them afterward or are a bit intimidated by the blank pages. So, I developed a slightly different approach to working in a blank book, whether handmade or store-bought. I began thinking about creating a visual narrative or thread that ran through the book - about how one page relates to the next, and a workshop was born.

Using a variety of materials, techniques, letterforms, and much more, students will spend five days delving into pages of their own. We will explore painting, cutting, printmaking, and so much more. I am truly excited to work with a group of students for such a sustained endeavor!

I invite you to join me Sunday, January 20 through Friday, January 25 for Beyond Blank Pages at the John C. Campbell Folk School. You can find more info on the Folk School website.